Andre Heimgartner says he must focus on improving his consistency this season in order to contend for the Dunlop Series title aboard MW Motorsport’s Finance Ezi Ford.
The 18-year-old Kiwi has joined the reigning champion team following a rookie season in an ex-Dick Johnson Racing Falcon prepared out of Paul Morris Motorsport’s Queensland workshop.
MW is campaigning Heimgartner, Morgan Haber and Ryan Simpson at this weekend’s Adelaide season opener, with Simpson currently on a one-race deal.
The changes follow 2013 series winner Dale Wood’s move to the V8 Supercars Championship with Brad Jones Racing and the departure of former sponsor Sherrin and driver Steve Owen.
The Melbourne-based squad has also changed its engine package this season, buying its own units from Ken McNamara’s KRE having previously operated on a lease agreement with Ford Performance Racing.
Heimgartner says he was impressed by his first taste of MW’s ex-FPR chassis at a Winton test day last Monday, but isn’t making any bold predictions about challenging for the title.
This year’s Dunlop Series field includes the likes of 2012 Bathurst winner Paul Dumbrell (Eggleston Motorsport), 2013 Dunlop Series runner-up Ashley Walsh (Matt Stone Racing) and new Ford Performance Racing recruit Cameron Waters.
“The experience of last season will be a great help because now I know more of what to expect,” said Heimgartner, having scored a victory in the reverse grid second race at Ipswich in 2013 on the way to 20th in points.
“I’ve really got to work on being consistent. Last year we showed speed at some rounds but had bad luck at others.
“We’ll need to improve that as well as making sure we’re qualifying towards the front.
“When you qualify further back in the pack that’s where the trouble happens early in the races. We want to be in front of that.”
He added of his title prospects: “We’ll give it our best shot. I’m not one to talk myself up, but the team and I are all pretty confident that we’ll have a good year.
“We’ve got to concentrate on taking it step by step and seeing how it goes.”
Heimgartner enters the Dunlop Series with plenty of recent miles under his belt having already raced in two New Zealand V8 SuperTourer events and twice run with Dick Johnson Racing (at a Lakeside ride day and the Sydney pre-season test) in recent weeks.
MWM team-mate Haber is also competing full-time in both classes having replaced Paul Manuell in the New Zealand series.
Although Heimgartner was announced earlier this month as a DJR ‘development driver’, he will not enjoy a maiden Pirtek Enduro Cup berth with the outfit this year.
The team confirmed last week that Steven Johnson and Ash Walsh will team with regulars David Wall and Scott Pye respectively.